Five years ago, on my regular Saturday morning shopping trip to the Sarasota Downtown Farmers Market, I discovered Grove Ladder Farm and Chelsea and Tim Clarkson! From delicious duck eggs to whole fresh chickens and everything in between, their food is fresh and healthy. Since COVID-19 has changed our lives, Tim is bringing his wonderful products to various pick up locations. You can order online HERE and pick up your order on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Indigenous Restaurant located at 239 S. Links in downtown Sarasota. Find additional pick up locations by emailing or calling Grove Ladder Farm.
I visited with Chelsea Clarkson to catch up on what’s happening these days now that the Farmers Market has re-opened and she shared the Grover Ladder’s story with me. Here’s what she had to tell us!
Grove Ladder Farm Story
Grove Ladder Farm is a small, pasture-based livestock farm serving the Sarasota and Manatee area. Tim and Chelsea currently raise chickens and sheep, with the plan of keeping cattle this coming Fall. The animals live their lives out on open pasture with access to plenty of natural shade; the farm itself is a 12-acre property densely populated with stately live oaks. In addition to producing their own products, they partner with other small, grass-based farms and craft businesses to provide a variety of local, ethical, and artisanal goods to their customers. Pasture to the People is their slogan, and it conveys the big goal — to bring animal products raised sustainably on pasture directly to the public.
The farm is small in every sense of the word – Chelsea and Tim run the business entirely on their own, with occasional assistance from Chelsea’s youngest brother. They live in a small, solid wood cabin with their four very small daughters. The heritage breed sheep they raise are small bodied, almost medieval looking. The average customer order they receive is quite small — a dozen or so eggs and a whole chicken, for example. Tim’s labor consists of ongoing small farm chores, small conversations with customers, and small improvements whenever possible. They began this venture five years ago, with a small booth at three local farmer’s markets.
COVID-19 Impact to the Farm
Their small-ness has done Grove Ladder a great service in recent months, as COVID-19 has forced many people to look more critically at our nation’s enormous meat and egg industry. New customers have found Grove Ladder, relieved to know that their livestock is raised in the open sunlight rather than in cramped, canned spaces that are unhygienic to both animals and workers. When the local farmer’s markets closed, Grove Ladder Farm began selling everything through their website and other great facts on their website, where customers can even arrange to pay online and select a no-contact weekly pickup location. Customers appreciate knowing that their goods are minimally handled and that Tim can place their purchases directly into their trunk if they desire.
Chelsea and Tim made the hard decision not to return to farmers’ markets based on the responses they received from their customer base, who largely preferred the new pick-up system. Chelsea comments that their customers are a lively bunch, to say the least, from a variety of social groups. Yet they all shop with us for the same reason: they want real food.
Phone: (941) 928-5891
Photo Credit: Brenna Foster
Photo Credit: Chelsea Clarkson